Though the Fire and Emergency Services personnel and police responded swiftly when a three-storey marriage hall under construction at Bandeswamy Math in Kommagatta collapsed on Monday, it was the local people who were on the scene first.

Assisted by the other labourers, the local people plunged into rescue operations minutes after the collapse, even managing to pull some of them out of the debris.

Shailesh, a resident, said he rushed to the spot with his friends soon after he was alerted about the incident.

“We found some labourers trapped underneath the debris. We used gas cutters to help remove the iron rods and wood so that we could rescue them.”

Rescue personnel S. Nanjundappa said that by the time they reached the spot, the residents had managed to pull out one body. The personnel had received a call around 10.34 a.m., around half an hour after the collapse.

Tedious process

The rescue operation was a tedious process. A police official said that as the labourers were trapped on the first floor of the building, it was not possible to use cranes to clear the debris and rescue workers trapped underneath. Instead, some of the iron mesh that was lying along with the debris had to be tied with ropes and pulled by not only police and fire force personnel, but also the other labourers and local people.

To add to their difficulty, the concrete cement had been laid just a few hours before the collapse, prompting the rescue personnel to shoot jets of water over the cement to prevent it from setting. Four fire tenders along with other rescue vehicles from Rajajinagar, Jayanagar and Peenya fire stations, were deployed along with the 54 fire force personnel who conducted a thorough search of the area to ensure no other labourers were trapped. Senior officials said that the construction was being carried out without valid authorisation.

Arrived 10 days ago

Lalchand (30) and Gurudev (24), two of the labourers who sustained minor injuries, had arrived in the city from Bihar just 10 days ago. The building collapse occurred just days after they joined work.

The duo was laying the concrete for the second floor ceiling when the building unexpectedly collapsed. Both men were treated at Rajarajeshwari hospital.

The other labourers said that the laying of concrete for the roof had begun only on Monday morning. An iron mesh too had been fixed around two weeks ago for the moulding for the roof.

‘Went down together’

Speaking to The Hindu, one of the workers who had a close shave when the building collapsed, Vijaykumar, said: “The building collapsed soon after we returned from breakfast. At least 25 of us were on the top floor when the collapse occurred. Some of us held on to the side portion of the building to prevent ourselves from falling. But, those who were in the middle all went down with force at the same time.”

Vijaykumar, who is from Gulbarga, said: “The centring was the main problem. It was made of wood instead of iron and could not support the weight.”

Dinesh, one of the injured, had to be operated upon as he sustained a serious injury when an iron rod pierced him through the chest after he fell from the top floor. His condition is said to be stable.

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